A look at three big matches scheduled for Friday at the Miami Open. Little pig, little pig, let me in … to your fridge … for some bacon.
(3) Roger Federer v Juan Martin Del Potro
Due to Del Potro’s low ranking as he returns from an extended injury hiatus, this becomes a second round match-up in Miami. It is the one to watch on Friday for The Pig. Del Potro has shown some decent stuff since returning at Delray Beach last month, but has yet to really show that he’s ready to step up a level. This could be that chance, albeit against a version of Roger Federer who has been missing for more than a month due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
So that leaves us with two gigantic question marks for this match. Federer is the bigger one as there is no way to know exactly how his rehab from surgery has gone. Del Potro has gone 5-2 since returning to the court, but has only played one player ranked in the top ten. That came at Indian Wells against Tomas Berdych. He lost 7-6, 6-2. Even if Federer might be less than 100 percent, these are the matches Del Potro needs to find his game.
The bad thing for the Argentine is that Miami has been a house of horrors his last two trips in 2013 (Kamke) and 2015 (Pospisil), where he lost his first match both times. I would expect Del Potro to have a chance in this one if Fed shows any rust from the layoff. If Federer has his timing down and is fit, then Del Potro likely will get to use this as a gauge of how far he has to go still.
In 20 previous meetings, the Argentine has won just five times. They have not met since 2013 when Federer took two of three meetings, but all went three sets. A top five seed has lost though in the second round in Miami twice in the last four years, so it would not be a total shock if Delpo pulled this off.
Federer wins in three sets
(15) David Goffin v Marcel Granollers
Granollers used the Challenger Tour last week to find his best form of 2016 and so far, it has carried over to Miami. The Spaniard won the Irving Tennis Classic and them promptly headed to South Beach to go through qualis and into the main draw. Granollers has now won eight straight, after beating Bjorn Fratangelo in the opening round.
Goffin played well last week in getting to the semifinals in Indian Wells, where he lost to Milos Raonic. He did score nice wins over Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka along the way. Miami has been hit and miss for the Belgian. Last year, he made the fourth round for the first time. He is just 5-4 in main draw matches in Miami over his career.
This is the first career meeting between the two. Granollers should be full of confidence as he’s got that winning feeling, but Goffin will be his toughest match in a while. Goffin’s athleticism will be a problem for the Spaniard, but he won’t be without his chances. Goffin rarely seems to get through matches without giving his opponents a chance to seize control. With plenty of time already on these courts, The Pig thinks Granollers has an opportunity to jump on Goffin early. If he can, an upset could be in the cards.
Granollers wins in three sets
(31) Steve Johnson v Alexander Zverev
This is the first meeting between the American and German, with both in drastically different form. Johnson is just 4-7 on the season and hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the Australian Open. Zverev meanwhile is coming off a fourth round finish at Indian Wells and stands at 9-7 on the season. The German was unlucky not to have made the quarterfinals as he led Rafael Nadal 5-3 in the third, but could not seal the deal.
Zverev already has one more win in Miami this week than Johnson does in his career. Zverev opened with a gritty 7-6, 7-6 win over Michael Mmoh. Johnson has lost his first match each of his last two trips to Miami. Johnson needs his serve to remain at a high level to help him effectively work into his ground strokes. When his serve goes away, his whole game seems to collapse. For Zverev, it is all about consistency. He has shown the ability to compete with some of the best in the business, but he does float in and out of sets sometimes with his own serve.
Confidence goes a long way in helping decide matches that look close to a toss-up on paper. This one already looked a big slanted to Zverev, so expect his better match play of late and that confidence to help him get the seeded scalp in this one.
Zverev wins in straight sets